The Phillies tried to go over .500 on the year for the fourth time this season and the second time in four days last night. Didn’t take. A day after Shawn Chacon shut them down for eight innings, the Phils managed just one run off Roy Oswalt in seven innings.
Former Phil Michael Bourn killed the Phils last night, scoring the only two runs the Astros needed to win the game. In the first he singled and stole second before coming around to score on a single. In the fifth he hit a solo home run off the foul pole in right.
The Phils have played three one-run games in their last three times out, going 1-2. In those three games the bullpen was tremendous, throwing ten innings in which they allowed one run on five hits and seven walks. All five of the hits were singles. The offense, missing the guys at the top of the order, Rollins and Victorino, is the culprit. Cause while the pitching overall has been about as good as you can ask for, holding opponents to 11 runs over three games, the offense has scored ten.
If the Phils are going to snap out of it in the short term it looks like they’re going to have to figure out how to do it without Rollins or Victorino. Victorino won’t be back till the end of the month at the earliest. The way Rollins hobbled off the field after his pinch-hit appearance made it look like it’s going to be a while before we see him at a hundred percent, either.
It’s making for some strange looking batting orders for the Phils. And with Feliz, Howard, Jenkins, Ruiz and Bruntlett all in the lineup just about every day and all hitting under .230, the strange looking batting orders aren’t getting a whole lot done.
The Phillies lost to the Houston Astros last night, falling 2-1 to drop to 7-8 on the season.
Kyle Kendrick got the start and had his best outing of 2008. He went seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out five.
Michael Bourn led off the first for the Astros and reached on an infield single with the help of a less than excellent throw from Utley. Mark Loretta flew to right for the first out before Bourn stole second. Kendrick struck out Lance Berkman for the second out, but Carlos Lee doubled off the wall in left and Bourn scored to put Houston up 1-0. Miguel Tejada struck out to end the frame.
Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 second with the scored tied at 1-1.
Loretta walked with two outs in the third. Berkman was next and dribbled a ball to third that went for a single. Lee grounded to Utley for the third out.
Kendrick set the Astros down 1-2-3 in the fourth.
He got the first two in the fifth and got ahead of Bourn 0-1 before Bourn homered off the foul pole in right. It put the Astros up 2-1. Loretta went down on a ball hit hard back to the pitcher for the third out.
The Astros went 1-2-3 in the sixth and again in the seventh.
Romero came in to pitch the eighth after the Phils hit for Kendrick in the bottom of the seventh. He struck out pinch-hitter Jose Cruz Jr and Bourn before Loretta drew a walk. Romero got Berkman to ground to short to end the frame.
Madson started the ninth with the Phils still down 2-1. He got the Astros 1-2-3, getting the second out on a line drive that Tejada smashed but right at Feliz. Nice inning for Madson, who has settled down after a rough start. Over his last four appearances he’s been charged with one run on three hits over five innings.
Romero threw 22 pitches and Madson just eight. Everyone in the pen should be available this afternoon, but Romero might be a little less available than others. Manuel doesn’t seem to mind using him two days in a row, though, and Romero has been well-rested lately.
The Phillies’ lineup against righty Roy Oswalt went (1) Werth (2) Feliz (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Ruiz (8) Bruntlett. Rollins still on the bench, and that messes up just about everything. Feliz, who came into the game 12-for-25 in his career against Oswalt, makes an appearance in the two-hole.
Werth singled to start the first. Feliz grounded to third for the first out and Werth moved to second. Utley flew to deep center and Werth went to third. Howard singled into center to score Werth and tie the game at 1-1. Burrell reached on an infield single to deep short, moving Howard to second, but Jenkins grounded to second to leave both runners stranded.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.
Utley doubled with two outs in the third and Howard followed with a walk. It put men on first and second for Burrell, who struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch.
Ruiz walked with one out in the fourth, but Bruntlett and Kendrick went down behind him.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.
In the sixth Burrell singled with one out and Jenkins moved him to second with a soft ground out to first. Ruiz flew to right to end the inning.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh. Snelling hit for Kendrick and grounded back to the pitcher for the second out.
Lefty Wesley Wright came on to pitch for the Astros in the eighth and struck out Feliz and Utley to start the inning. He got Howard looking at a 3-2 pitch that looked inside.
Righty Doug Brocail came in to protect the 2-1 Astros lead after Jose Valverde got lit up the night before. He blew Burrell away swinging at an 0-2 pitch before Jenkins grounded softly to second. Rollins hit for Ruiz and lined a single into right-center. Taguchi ran for Rollins, who hobbled a little getting off the field, and Dobbs hit for Bruntlett. Interesting question who plays short in the top of the tenth if Dobbs had doubled Taguchi in, but we’ll never know. Dobbs struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the game (I’m thinking it would probably be Feliz with Dobbs at third).
Werth was 1-for-4.
Feliz was 0-for-4.
Utley was 1-for-4 with a double, the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils.
Howard was 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout, but he got a tough call on the strikeout in the eighth.
Burrell was 2-for-4 and struck out twice.
Jenkins was 0-for-4 and left three men on base. He’s 2-for-his-last-19 and his average is down to .216.
Ruiz was 0-for-2 with a walk.
The offense is miserable. The Phils need to give a bunch of the guys on the bench, Coste, Dobbs, Snelling and Taguchi, some starts. And I think they will, maybe as soon as this afternoon. Dobbs has had terrible at-bats lately, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see either or both of him and Snelling starting against the righty today.
This afternoon Brett Myers (1-1, 5.00) faces righty Brandon Backe (1-1, 2.25) in the final game of the three-game set. After missing most of 2007 after Tommy John surgery, Backe has allowed just four runs over 16 innings in his three starts this season. Opponents are hitting just .254 against him, but he’s walked 11 in his 16 innings. He’s been much better against lefties early, they are hitting just .174 against him. Myers made the best of his three starts his last time out, holding the Cubs to three runs on five hits over eight innings on Friday. He has been hurt badly by the long ball so far, allowing five in just 18 innings. His home run rate is just to go down — so far he’s allowed 2.5 home runs per nine innings. Coming into the season he allowed home runs at his highest rate in 2004, when he allowed 31 in 176, or about 1.6 home runs per nine innings. Backe did not face the Phillies last season. Myers only got three starts on the year in 2007, but one of them came against Houston on April 13. He got bombed, charged with seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. Carlos Lee hit two home runs off of him in two at-bats in that game.